Meeting decides on action abroad to raise awareness about missing persons in Cyprus

A meeting of competent authorities, which convened here today, decided on a series of actions at decision-making bodies abroad to help raise awareness about the issue of missing persons in Cyprus.

The meeting was attended by all relevant services and representatives of organisations of relatives of missing persons, under the presidency of the Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues Fotis Fotiou.

Speaking after the meeting, Fotiou said they discussed the reduction in locating remains of missing persons, in Cyprus` northern Turkish occupied areas, and the difficulties in identifying remains at the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) laboratory.

Fotiou said that 42 years after the Turkish invasion the search for a large number of missing persons, approximately 950, continues.

He pointed out that responsibility lies with Turkey for not cooperating and for refusing to give information on mass graves, the movement of remains, both of which create problems to the smooth functioning of the CMP.

“We will continue our efforts because we have an obligation to provide answers to the relatives of missing persons,” he pledged.

Regarding the effort to raise awareness, Fotiou said a number of actions will be taken abroad with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry and the help of relatives of missing persons.

He said that one of these actions is to meet with the new European Parliament rapporteur on missing persons issues of Cyprus, an appointment he welcomed.

“We will see many people in various decision-making centres such as the US Senate and Congress. Greeks abroad have asked to be involved in this effort and we discussed today way they can support this effort, particularly in the US, England, European Union countries, to raise awareness among foreign decision makers”, he added.

Fotiou said that there will be meetings with foreign ambassadors, who can persuade and put pressure on Turkey to cooperate, and many visits to Strasbourg and Brussels as well as Geneva where the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Red Cross are based.

He said that important material has been put together as well as a documentary, which will be given out to inform interlocutors about the issue of missing persons.

“I call on the United Nations and especially Mr. Arni, the third member of the CMP, to expedite the procedures regarding communicating to us the information in United Nations archives”, he said.

President of the Pancyprian Organization of Relatives of Missing Nicos Sergides said that “the problems which CMP faces as well as the very poor results in recent months or years with regard to identification of remains have forced us to find more concrete and practical ways to help its work.”

President of the Community Council of Assia Yiorgos Ioannou said today they were briefed on how CMP work is proceeding and what future action can be taken to help resolve this humanitarian issue.

The CMP is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations. Following the establishment of an agreed list of missing persons, the CMP’s objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2001 persons (502 Turkish Cypriots and 1,493 Greek Cypriots) who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

According to CMP figures, the remains of 1192 people were exhumed by the end of 2016. Seven hundred forty missing persons were identified by December 31st, 2016.

source: CNA